The Church’s Attitudes Towards Women Part 1

“The Weaker Vessel”

Writings in the New Testament attributed to the Apostle Paul were used as the rational for a celibate priesthood, the subjugation of women, and the prohibition of sexual congress for all but procreation. St. Peter’s writings portrayed women as “the weaker vessel” [1 Peter 3:5–7]. A study of the early church’s writings revels a relentless vilification of women by male “Saints” of the early Catholic Church. The second century St. Clement of Alexandria wrote: “Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman.” The sixth century Christian philosopher, Boethius, wrote in The Consolation of Philosophy, “Woman is a temple built upon a sewer.” This ceaseless slander is based in the belief of Eve’s culpability for original sin.

St. Odo Cluny

In the sixth century, the Council of Macon, actually put a vote the question as to whether women had souls. In the tenth century, Saint Odo of declared, “To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure…” The thirteenth century St. Thomas Aquinas suggested that God had made a mistake in creating woman: “nothing [deficient] or defective should have been produced in the first establishment of things; so woman ought not to have been produced then.”  Lutherans at Wittenberg actually debated whether women were really human beings at all. Orthodox Christians held women responsible for all sin. As the Bible’s Apocrypha states, “Of woman came the beginning of sin…and thanks to her, we all must die.”

Church teaching dictated that women, tainted with the corruption of the devil, wielded the “power of lust” to led man to loss of control and against the word of God. Eve was vilified as the originator of sin, the bringer of pain and suffering to mankind; and who with fruit of knowledge, became the destroyer of the Garden of Eden. The same Church Counsels repudiated Mary Magdalene’s role in the foundation and propagation of early Gnostic Christianity. They defamed her as a Whore.  A tactic the patriarchy has used for millennia when marginalizing “inconvenient” women. The label a harlot or prostitute has justified many an innocent woman’s exploitation or death.  The misogynistic, madness of the Catholic Inquisition resulted in the torture and gruesome death of nine million women. However, that atrocity cannot be separated from the seeds of Femocide sown in the malevolent and suppressive beginnings of the Church.

Excerpted with permission:

Goddess of Wonder, Goddess of Light, by Leslie C. Botha and H. Sandra Chevalier-Batik, 2004 Pleiades Publishing, ISBN 0-9716968-1-0

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Author: H. Sandra Chevalier-Batik

I started the Inconvenient Woman Blog in 2007, and am the product of a long line of inconvenient women. The matriarchal line is French-Canadian, Roman Catholic, with a very feisty Irish great-grandmother thrown in for sheer bloody mindedness. I am a research analyst and author who has made her living studying technical data, and developing articles, training materials, books and web content. Tracking through statistical data, and oblique cross-references to find the relevant connections that identifies a problem, or explains a path of action, is my passion. I love clearly delineating the magic questions of knowledge: Who, What, Why, When, Where and for How Much, Paid to Whom. My life lessons: listen carefully, question with boldness, and personally verify the answers. I look at America through the appreciative eyes of an immigrant, and an amateur historian; the popular and political culture is a ceaseless fascination. I have no impressive initials after my name. I’m merely an observer and a chronicler, an inconvenient woman who asks questions, and sometimes encourages others to look at things differently.